SUWANEE, Ga. — Katie Sulko, 8, of Suwanee, loved to play soccer, was a part of swim team and practiced her gymnastics six to eight hours a week.
In late August, everything changed.
“We noticed very large and dark bruises on her body, and little red dots all over her legs,” said Katie’s mother Becky Sulko.
When taken to the doctor, she was immediately sent to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite.
Katie had a platelet count of under 10,000 per microliter. The normal range is between 150,000 and 400,000 per microliter.
This is very dangerous for an athlete because platelets are a part of the blood clotting process.
Without them, a person could bleed to death.
Doctors explained to Katie’s parents that most children naturally self-adjust. Katie did not.
She was then diagnosed with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP).
She has undergone different treatments for ITP including steroids and intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) infusions. Her platelet count always dropped back below 10,000.
Living with ITP means Katie has to go for weekly blood tests, monthly doctor’s visits and periodic treatments.
“This is a much different lifestyle than most 8 year olds live,” said Sulko.
This all helps to keep her platelet levels safe.
In a show of support for Katie, her Girl Scout troop used some of their cookie money to make a donation to the Platelet Disorder Support Association (PDSA).
“Katie is now taking art classes and learning to play golf, wearing a helmet when her counts are too low,” Sulko said.
The family also said they continue to hope and pray that she will not have to live with ITP anymore and that she can go back to living life as a normal child.